Reading is fun

I hope the American Legion Auxiliary won’t mind my borrowing their program title.

Right before Christmas break, the organization had another free “Reading is Fundamental” – or “Reading is Fun” book distribution to local school children. Three times a year this group distributes books to local elementary schools so children can have books of their very own. The chatter among the students as they carefully decide which books to choose is amazing – as is the joy when they are able to choose ‘their’ book. One student excitedly told me as she showed me her book selection, “I have other books like this that I’ve gotten at R.I.F. I just love them. They’re so good!” Goal achieved! Another happy and excited reader.

This got me to thinking about other reading situations with children I’ve encountered. As a teacher, I’ve always enjoyed reading to my classes – a time that is, sadly, dwindling away with other curriculum demands. But, I still try to squeeze in a little story time. In addition to teaching, I also work part-time in the fast food industry. A former student, one that I didn’t think really cared about anything at the time, who also worked there, told me, “Mrs. Sampson, I hope you still read your class that ‘Indian in the Cupboard’ book. You read that to us and it was the best book I’ve ever heard.” Say what? That was over 10 years ago that I read his class that book and he still remembered it? I also had a mother ask me what that “Time” book was I read to her daughter’s class. Evidently the daughter had been harping about reading it again and couldn’t remember the title. I told the mother and she later told me her daughter had finally found it at the library and had almost read the cover off of it. I guess books do matter.

While crawling home from Marietta with my adult son on a recent snowy day, I made the comment , “Slow and steady, steady and slow, that’s the way we always go.”, a line from an oft-read book when he was a child. “That’s ‘Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel’. Remember when he dug himself into the basement and couldn’t get out?” (Well, I ‘Googled’ the quote and it wasn’t from ‘Mike’, it was from a ‘Goofy’ book. But, the point is, he remembered the book and its plot!) That got us to talking about other books he’d enjoyed as a child – many that were my favorites. “Mike” had been a favorite thanks to Captain Kangaroo, along with ‘Caps for Sale’ and ‘Millions of Cats’. We laughed as we remembered each one. Then there was ‘The Snowy Day’ – one of my all-time favorites – and ‘Corduroy’ and the family-favorite ‘Toad Flies High’. Many, many more books followed during story time for him and his brother.

We moved on to discussing books he’d read as he got older. I reminded him of how angry he got when there were no more Hardy Boys books to read. “I checked those things out 10 at a time because that’s all I was allowed to have.” Those were accompanied by ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books – “I got so mad when I ‘died’ and had to go back and try another ending.” and the always popular ‘Matt Christopher’ sports books.

He is still a voracious reader, often having ‘hard copy’ books as well as e-reader books going. He’s even requested hard copies of e-books he’d already read . Is reading fun? In this family I’d have to say “Yes”. I hope it is in your family as well. Build those memories for both you and your child.

Take advantage of story time at the library for your little ones, read those “R.I.F.” books with your child, go to the library if you can, share the weekly story in their reading book. It’s a great way to spend a ‘Snowy Day’.

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Sue Sampson is a longtime columnist for The Parkersburg News & Sentinel.